Expedition Instructor (XI) | 6-Month Residential Wilderness Immersion Program

2025 Course Info
· Dates: 4/6-10/25
· Phase 1: 4/6-6/6
· Phase 2: 6/29-7/26
· Phase 3: TBD
· Phase 4: 8/24-10/24
· Tuition: $12,800*
· Maximum Size: 6
· GI Bill: Partial
· Americorps: Partial

Expedition Instructor Program. 6-Month, Full-Time Residential Training

The Expedition Instructor program (XI). Six intense months, designed for future bushcraft instructors, wilderness guides and industry leaders.

The Expedition Instructor Program (XI) is a full-time, 6-month immersion into bushcraft, guide training, primitive living skills and expedition training. It’s a no BS, no new-age mumbo jumbo, no hand-holding experience that is heavy on academic work and accountability and definitely not for everyone. We’re not trying to appeal to a large audience; we’re looking for a tiny group of people who are determined, coachable, hard workers, and ready for a challenge.  

The XI is a deep dive into becoming a professional bushcraft instructor and wilderness guide by combining field experience with academic research and study. The modern world is interested in shallow knowledge and understanding. This program is the opposite – it goes deep.

Who The Expedition Instructor Program Is For

The framework of the program consists of standards-based professional training. Our goal is to train future industry leaders and give them a running start. This program is for future guides, instructors and business owners. Our goal is to pass on the skills that have made the Jack Mountain Bushcraft School so successful since we began in the late 1990s. These include the bushcraft, guiding, education, instructional design and business skills.

Why Us? Why Now?

After inventing the long-term program and two successful decades running them, we know what it takes to succeed and lead in the outdoor industry. We’ve seen countless outdoor businesses start, only to disappear after a year or two. Sometimes the reality of owning and running a business doesn’t match up with the fantasy. Sometimes the business model wasn’t viable. Sometimes people didn’t want to put in the hard work necessary to be successful. We’ve learned where the gaps are. We have a proven record of success, and we want to pass on the deep knowledge we’ve learned to the next generation. In bushcraft, in wilderness guiding and in business. In the past we have taught the skills of the woods and waters and hoped that people could figure out the rest. In this program, we’re with you every step of the way. Hope is replaced with documented field experience.

Residential, Based At Our Field School

This program is residential. For the duration of the program, home is the Jack Mountain field school and along the rivers and among the mountains of northern Maine. Participants live in tents or shelters for the entire six months. Needless to say, they will learn to do so well. We begin as the snow is melting in April and finish before the deep snows fall in late October.

How It Works

The program progresses through four phases, which can be taken in a single year or broken up over several years.

Phase 1 – Wilderness Canoe Expedition Semester, 4-Weeks, Spring Term
The program beings with the spring term and the Wilderness Canoe Expedition Semester, and the Engagé Expedition Canoe Skills Certification, levels 1 and 2. Tuition for Phase 1 is $4200, and is covered by the GI Bill.

Phase 1 – Wilderness Bushcraft Semester, 9-Weeks, Spring Term
Phase 1 consists of the Wilderness Bushcraft Semester, our flagship course, and the Journeyman Certification Program. Tuition for Phase 1 is $7250 and is covered by the GI Bill.

Phase 2 – Wilderness Canoe Expedition Semester, 4-Weeks, Summer Term
Phase 2 is the Wilderness Canoe Expedition Semester, and the Engagé Expedition Canoe Skills Certification, levels 1 and 2. Tuition for Phase 1 is $4200, and is covered by the GI Bill.

Phase 3 – Primitive Wilderness Living Practicum – 1 Week, Late Summer
After a lengthy period as a student, there is nothing like getting out and doing it on your own to lock in everything you’ve learned. During the Primitive Wilderness Living Practicum, participants travel deep into the North Maine Woods where they live with a skill set and technology level that is simple and austere. They bring some basics with them: sleeping bag, tarp, metal pot, some food, fishing kit, axe, knife, metal pot. They transition into using primitive technologies for their fire and shelter needs. They transition from brought food to gathered food, catching fish and gathering plants. This is not a guided trip. No instructors are present. It’s self-guided. Students put what they’ve learned during the semester into practice. For tuition and insurance purposes, this is a student-guided activity, so there is no associated tuition. There is no instructor or guide on the trip. If you need your hand held, this experience is not for you.

Phase 4 – Wilderness Bushcraft Semester Teaching Assistant, 9-Weeks, Fall Term
Phase 4 is a deep dive into the backend of the the business of outdoor education and where you begin to build the skill sets that will make you successful in the long run. A deep dive into teaching, learning and instructional design. You will be a teaching assistant on the fall course, which means you will both help with student support and, with guidance, begin to teach on topics you’ve spent months perfecting. As you’ll learn, teaching isn’t just providing information to students – it’s a process based around how they best learn. You’ll learn our process for instructional design that’s allowed us to prosper in this field for over two decades. You’ll also be learning how to use media to your advantage. The goal is that by the end of the fall semester you have cemented your understanding of how people learn and how best to reach them, as well as have a solid understanding of the business side. Tuition for Phase 4 is $1350. None of this is covered by the GI Bill.

Note: After several years of running the XI where students would sign up for the entire program at once, we have moved on to a model of signing students up for each phase as a standalone course. This greatly simplifies things and now our standard operating procedure. So a student would sign up for the WBS and the WCES as regular students on those programs. Returning students get preferential treatment for spots.

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